Aum Shinrikyo cult members who were sentenced 20 years for releasing sarin nerve gas inside subway cars in 1995, could be hanged any day, Japan Times reported.
Tuesday, March 20, marked 23 years since members of the Aum cult punctured plastic bags to release sarin nerve gas inside subway cars. That act of atrocity killed 13 people and sickening thousands. Cult leader Shoko Asahara and a dozen followers were sentenced to death, and they may be sent to the gallows any day now.
According to the investigation, Aum Shinrikyo’s leader is responsible for killing 27 in all, his sentences date back as far as 20 years but when is uncertain. Japan’s death penalty system surrounded with the secrecy.
On March 20, Shizue Takahashi, the 71-year-old widow of an assistant stationmaster who died in the attack, and the current station master placed flowers on a temporary altar set up for offerings. Mrs Takahashi expressed her hope that the Aum cult members executions are carried out in accordance with the Japanese law.
“It seems the legal process has entered the next stage,”
Takahashi added. Earlier, the widow has already asked the Justice Ministry for a chance to meet the convicts and witness their executions. She said it is important to her to follow through to the very end. However, the legal experts suggest Takahashi’s wish is unlikely to be granted.
Aum members punishment: legal basis and the growing threat of extremism
The punishment is not an easy decision, Japanese experts on the cult warn that if Aum members are executed, they would be glorified as martyrs by cult remnants, likely bolstering their worship of Asahara. The cult claimed 10,000 members in Japan and 30,000 in Russia. It has disbanded, though nearly 2,000 people follow its rituals in three splinter groups, monitored by authorities.
The cult amassed an arsenal of chemical, biological and conventional weapons to carry out Asahara’s escalating criminal orders in anticipation of an apocalyptic showdown with the government.